Unemployment insurance provides a great benefit to people who lose their job. They are able to collect unemployment payments until they can find a new job. However, many people wonder if they can still receive unemployment benefits if they quit their job. Most of the time, you can only qualify for these payments if you are laid off or lose your job through no fault of your own. If you quit your job, it must be for very specific reasons to still have your unemployment claim approved. Here is what you need to know about quitting your job and receiving unemployment.
Do You Get Unemployment If You Voluntarily Quit Your Job?
If you voluntarily quit your job without good cause, then you will not have eligibility for unemployment benefits in any state in America. Just because you might think that you have a good reason does not mean that reason will qualify you for benefits. There are many good reasons that people might quit their job, but many of those reasons do not qualify as “good cause” when it comes to determining eligibility for unemployment. For instance, you might decide that you want to pursue a totally different career path. Perhaps you no longer find your work interesting and want to look at other options. Similarly, you may feel stuck in your job with no room for advancement or promotions. While this is a perfectly valid reason for quitting your job and moving on, those reasons alone will not allow you to collect unemployment while you look for a new job.
Each state views the good cause eligibility requirements a little differently. One state may determine that your reason is valid while another might deny your claim. It depends on where you live, although most of the personal reasons described above will never allow you to qualify for benefits. Keep reading as we describe more details of some of the good cause reasons for quitting as well as discuss how to get unemployment or appeal a decision by your state’s Department of Labor.
How Unemployment Benefits Work
The basics of unemployment benefits are quite simple. These benefits are intended to help provide financial assistance in the event that you are laid off. In some cases, you can still receive benefits if you are fired or quit, but those instances are rare. You must meet certain requirements to be approved for benefits. First, you must have enough work history to be eligible. This varies by state, but generally even part-time workers can qualify for benefits if they have worked at their job for a decent period of time.
Next, you must be willing to work and actively search for a job. Some states require that you complete a certain number of applications for employment each week while receiving benefits. Once you lose your job, then you submit your application for benefits to your state unemployment office. If approved for benefits, then you will begin receiving payments. You should also know that there is a limit to the length of time for which you can receive benefits. That length of time has currently been extended due to the Coronavirus pandemic, and benefit amounts were also temporarily increased. Many people also wonder if they have to file taxes when they collect unemployment. While you might still need to file taxes, most states and the IRS exempt a certain amount of unemployment payments from income taxes.
So, how long can you get unemployment? It depends on the state in which you live. In most states, you can receive about 26 weeks of benefits as long as you are making a reasonable effort to find a new job.
Unemployment Eligibility When You Quit Your Job
For most workers, both full-time and part-time, quitting your job will not qualify you for unemployment benefits. These benefits are usually intended to cover layoffs and unexpected job losses. Most of the time, a reasonable person is not going to quit their job unless they have another lined up. However, there are instances where quitting may be the only option. In certain circumstances, quitting your job may be warranted and you might still be able to get benefits.
These circumstances are usually when there is good cause to quit your job. This may be due to unsafe working conditions, harassment, or some other issue that leaves the worker no choice but to quit working. In those cases, the claimant can usually get approved to receive benefits.
“Good Cause” Reasons For Quitting
So, we have mentioned that there are some instances where you can quit your job and still receive unemployment compensation. It depends specifically on your state’s law, but the following situations will generally constitute good cause for quitting for your job.
If your employer is no longer paying you for time worked, this could amount to constructive discharge. The reasons for non-payment are typically not as important. Perhaps the company is in financial trouble or the employer has simply gotten lazy when it comes to payroll. Either way, quitting your job to look for other work in this case will likely not disqualify you from receiving unemployment.
Unsafe Working Conditions
All employees need suitable work conditions, and failure to provide safe conditions can be reason enough to quit your job. Not only could you get injured, but that could lead to additional financial difficulty. If your employer refuses to correct these unsafe conditions, then you are likely OK to go ahead and quit your job and start another job search. If you have any questions, you should always seek legal advice before quitting.
Discrimination is usually a valid reason for quitting your job. Discrimination could be based on race, gender, medical conditions, or anything else that constitutes discrimination. This can also get to the level of constructive discharge, which is technically a form of wrongful termination and not a voluntary quitting.
True harassment in any form will usually be enough grounds to quit your job. This could be sexual harassment or harassment of other types. If you are subject to constant harassment, then you should go ahead and get legal help as well. However, you are probably safe to quit your job and still qualify for unemployment benefits.
This is somewhat of a catch all reason. This might be due to domestic violence or to provide child care or care for a sick family member. The laws vary by state as to how serious the medical condition needs to be, but you can always contact your state unemployment insurance agency with specific questions.
Appealing An Unemployment Decision
If you have been denied benefits, you can always appeal that decision. You will need to provide your Social Security number and other contact information to appeal the decision made by the state unemployment agency. You should contact your state’s agency for the specific process, but be prepared to gather plenty of documentation to support your claim. You may need to find witnesses and present evidence to show why your claim was wrongfully denied.
The Bottom Line
By now, you should know the answer to the question, “Can I get unemployment if I quit?” Voluntarily quitting your job is usually enough to prevent you from receiving a weekly benefit amount from the unemployment office. However, there are some things that justify quitting and allow you to still get unemployment. These are usually reasons for “good cause” and not something like quitting because you simply do not enjoy working there anymore. Some examples include harassment and unsafe working conditions. If you are denied benefits, then you can appeal that decision, though you will need to have your evidence ready.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I claim unemployment benefits if I leave my job due to stress?
Usually, stress is not enough to allow you to leave your job and still qualify for unemployment benefits. However, if the stress is a serious medical condition, then it might qualify as a valid reason in some states. Since the laws vary by state, you should seek legal advice from an attorney in your area or contact your local unemployment office.
What is the difference between quitting and being fired?
Quitting is where you voluntarily leave your job and decide not to work there anymore. When you get fired, your employer terminates your employment and tells you that you are no longer an employee. So, maybe you’re wondering, “Can I get unemployment if I get fired?” Quitting and getting fired for cause both usually nullify your ability to collect unemployment.
What happens if I quit a job and then take another one?
If you take another job after leaving one, then there is usually no need for unemployment. Unemployment benefits are meant to provide help while you are searching for a new job. The disclaimer here is that you might be able to draw benefits if your next job doesn’t pan out. For instance, if you left your job after receiving a firm offer from another employer, then the second employer disappears, you might be able to draw unemployment while you conduct a new job search.
What are the requirements for quitting and collecting unemployment?
Many people wonder, “Can you collect unemployment if you quit?” If you quit your job, it must be for good cause to qualify for unemployment. If you voluntarily leave for other reasons, then you will not be able to receive unemployment benefits. This is why it is important to know the laws in your state before leaving your job. You might find yourself between jobs with no income and have a hard time making ends meet.